BY TOM SLAUGHTER – OWNER OF EARTH OASIS COMPUTERS
I’m never surprised when a client calls or comes into the shop and says, “I let a friend use my computer and now it’s not working properly.” Feel free to substitute “grandchild, son, daughter, neighbor and sometimes even spouse,” for “friend.”
Note to self: a personal computer is not a rental car. The programs you use are easily reconfigured. Your important files are easily deleted. And as great as the Internet is, it’s also chock-full of infected websites that can contaminate your computer even by a drive-by visit. The truth is that some people (with every good intention) are not very careful or are easily fooled by fake advertisements and warnings that are displayed on those bad websites (and even some not-so-bad websites).
Most people I know who depend on their computer have spent a lot of time arranging their files and personalizing the programs they regularly use. When they are changed without their knowledge, putting them right can be time-consuming and annoying. It’s not like adjusting the seat in your car. It’s easy to readjust the seat if someone else uses your car, but can you imagine if it took an hour or more? That can be exactly what happens when you let someone else use your personal computer. I’ve seen it happen over and over.
The worst offenders in my experience are grandkids, children and spouses, in that order. There are a couple of things you can do to protect your computer. Number one, you can just say no. I always tell my clients who absolutely depend on their personal computer – to try and not let others use it. When you have to say no to your grandkids, you are not being selfish. Even if you create a limited guest account as I will explain below, it can still get messed up and data not protected by being in your personal user directory can still be accidentally deleted.
If you must share your personal computer with other people, you can have a limited guest login for your computer. Most operating systems allow for several people to use the same computer. Logging in through a limited second account gives your child/grandchild/spouse/friend limited access to the applications on your computer, and no access to your personal files as long as that data is kept in your personal user directory. Limited accounts are not able to install software or change critical settings, and provide protection from most serious infections. Someone logged in as a limited user can browse the internet and use most applications.
Here is the bottom line. I am a very nice guy and am happy to share many of my possessions with family and friends, but not my personal computer. I would sooner let them borrow my car, because I can always rent one if it gets damaged. But I can’t rent a computer that’s going to have all my files and particular programs on it. If you must share your computer, setup a limited guest account. If you need help with this, we can help.
One last note… I have said “personal computer” because most computers you might be using in a corporate environment have already been locked down by the company computer techs and are connected to a central server computer that regulates most things that can be done.
June 20th, 2015